Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1960-1977 Early Auto Travels in the U.S.
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:53
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Grandma June's early travels in the United States was all done by the automobile or the motor vehicle. Unfortunately most such travel was not well documented and at best it is all very fragmentary.
(Note: The travel for camping trips in the midwest are all covered by a separate article on that subject.)
The Fall of 1960, marked the beginning of June's first travels in and around the United States.
June's first automobile travel was a trip to and a week in Washington D.C. visiting friends (Richard Dugstad family) and seeing the usual tourist sights. This included the Capital, the White House, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington monument, the Smithsonian and many other historical sites.
Navigating the numerous and notorious Washington traffic circles required some skill and practice. June did well enough so that we and the car survived the travel in downtown Washington D. C. While traffic conditions were congested most of the day, the car remained of necessity, the principle means for June to get around the capital city.
The trip out from Fridley, Minnesota to Washington D. C. was done in two segements. The first day was travel from Fridley, Minnesota to Milwaukee, WI where the night was spent as a guest in the home of June's sister Lenore and her husband Bud Snider.
The next morning was an early departure after breakfast with the Sniders. The first hurdle was getting around the city of Chicago. This segment was more than a little tense as neither of us had any experience with the Chicago highway system. The traffic on the hghways circling Chicago all moved at top speed. I drove while June held the maps, navigated and gave directions. We managed to get around the city of Chicago and into Indiana without any wrong moves or other incidents. The first in the series of toll roads began when we reached the Indiana state border. We continued across Indiana on the Indiana turnpike/tollway. The Ohio turnpike/tollway was next. The long straight toll road travel was rather boring and broken up only by the occasional stop at a rest area. It was however a rapid and efficient means of automobile travel
The second evening was spent in a small motel in the little town of Beaver Falls, PA just off of the Pennsylvania turnpike-tollway.
The third day completed the trip with an arrival at the Dugstads in the early afternoon. The trip had required the keeping of a considerable quantity of coins/change on hand for the constant tollroad requirments. the last segment of the trip through Virginia was picturesque with many small stone fences noted along the roadway in the countryside.
In May of 1977, June drove her Mother Haldis and uncle/stepfather Ed Nedland on a whirlwind tour around the midwest, the western part of the United States, the south and southeast, while visiting relatives all along the way. June was both the driver, the planner and the navigator for the entire trip. This was in the days before MapQuest and the present day GPS Navigation systems. June had to figure it all out by herself. She had never been over any part of this long route before. Her mother Haldis and uncle/stepfather Ed were very elderly at the time and had no experinece in travels of this type. June simply made use of a State Farm Iinsurance Company atlas book of road maps plus what information she could obtain from people and relatives along the way. She did the multiple thousand miles journey of drivning and navigating and she did it alone. When I think back at what she did, I am amazed. She never exhibited any lack of confidence in her ability to do it. Her only previous experience was the trip that we took together to Washington DC over a decade before. June may have been a farm girl from Colfax, Wisconsin but she was one very well orgainized and intelligent lady. I am so proud of her.
Uncle/stepfather Ed and June's mother Haldis had agreed to provide the car, the gas, the food and the lodging for the trip if June would do all the driving and navigating. Uncle/stepfather Ed was noted for his frugality. As a result, every time the gas tank needed refilling, it involved checking around the town for the least expensive gas prices. June wondered if they really saved any money by this procedure because of the additional driving needed to find the lowest gas prices. The selection of a motel also involved the same procedure. This method as would be expected, also resulted in some unsatisfactory overnight accomodations. June was happy that relatives frequently provided very nice comfortable lodging for them along the way.
(Note: During most of June's life and until the late 1990's when Azlheimer's started taking over her life, June was the family bright star with a radiant smile. In later international travels, June was the one who taught me how to travel around the city of London economically and quickly by using the underground system. I had always used a cab because I thought the London underground was too complicated and slow until June showed me the way. While I was attending Forensic meetings during the day, June was navigating all around London on her own. Over the years she did the same in Zurich, Rome and other large European cities. In the later years as June traveled deeply into the shadows of Alzheimers and became a resident at an assisted living home, (2005) she could not find her room at that facility although her picture and name was alongside the door.
June started their 1977 coast to coast trip by first heading west out through Kansas, where they visited President Eisenhower's birthplace and childhood home at Abilene, Kansas. They also visited President Eisenhower's burial site and his Memorial Libray. From Kansas it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah and the Mormon Temple and the Morman Headquarters Buildings.
(Photo below right was taken at the Francis Johnson Home in Williston, ND - May 1977 (L-R) Ed Nedland, Clara Johnson, June, Ida Bakke and Francis Johnson.)
Their route then turned upwards to Williston, North Dakota and a visit with the Frances and Clara Johnson Family. Also visited was the Johnson's daughter Marilyn Messner and Laverne Johnson. Included in this family gathering was Mabel Riley, Ida Bakke (Ed's cousin) and Agnes Elderburg. A visit was also made to Gladys (Nelson) Thoring and husband Anton.
The trip was then continued through the northern tier of states an on to the Hood River, Oregon area and to the Seattle/Tacoma Washington area.
While in this area, June even managed to work in a visit with one of my old U. S. Army service friends, Dean Bay and his wife Virginia at LaGrande, Oregon.
I had no previous indication that June intended to visit my friend.. If the situation were to be reversed, I am sure that I would not have wanted to try to work such a visit into an otherwise busy and hectic schedule, just to find a way to visit the one of my spuse's old friends in an out of the way small town in Oregon. I would say this is just one of the many examples of why June is so unique. June never gives a thought to her own convenience and always puts her family and loved ones first.
LaGrande, Oregon is nestled between the Wallowa Mountains and the Blue moutains in the Grande Ronde Valley. The city describes themselves as: "a bustling and vibrant small town community." LaGrande, Oregon is located in the extreme northest corner of the state of Oregon.
June had also planned to visit relatives at Hood River, Oregon which is located on the top center edge of the state of Oregon. Her visit to LaGrande was not just a visit along the way.
(Photo below right is June visiting with Virginia and Dean Bay at their home in LaGrande, Oregon - 1977.)
At Hood River, Oregon they visited Ronald and Frances Moe at their home. June noted that the Moe's had a pretty little river running right behing their home.
A visit was also made to June and Howard Davis at their home in Olympia, WA. June was impressed with the Davis home's beautifuyl location with a small orchard of fruit trees near the house.
June, Ed and Haldis also visited the Elmer and Bernice Olson family at Longview, WA. (Bernice is Grandma Ellen's sister Nora's daughter and my cousin.)
At Tacoma, WA they all visited with Clarence and Marie Delegard.
During their stay in Tacoma they also visited with Junie (Delegard) Larson and her daughter Chris as well as Junie's sister Agnes Davis. Both Junie and Agnes are daughters of Rebecca Delegard.
June was able to work Centralia, Washington into their schedule where they visited Donna Jean (Robertson) Blatt. Donna Jean was the owner and operator of a Beauty Shop in Centralia and the beauty shop was included in the visit.
From Washington and Oregon, they worked their way down through California. In California they visited Romie and Sophie McDonald at their home in Navato, CA and also Melvin and Marion Nedland at Vacaville, CA. (Romie is my cousins while Melvin is my uncle.)
(Photo below right is June visiting with Sophie McDonald at her home in Navato, CA - 1977.)
June even managed to visit the famed "Crystal Cathedral" at Garden Grove, CA. This is the home of the "Hour of Power" TV ministries by the founding Pastor Robert H. Schuller. June would frequently watch the "Hour of Power" when home in Fridley on Sunday morning. Because of the time difference between Minnesota and California, June attended Redeemer Lutheran Church during the mid morning sermon and would then be able to listen to the "Hour of Power" from California after returning home from church.
Pastor Schuller was noted for his consistent "Possibility Thinking" theme.
The Crystal Cathedral is the home base for the International Crystal Cathedral Ministries and the internationally televised "Hour of Power". The congregation at the Crystal Cathedral is over 10,000 members. The present magnificent church of architectural acclaim had very humble beginnings. It was first founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his wife Arvella in 1955 as the Garden Grove Community Church. The church was started under the auspices of Schuller's denomination, the Reformed Church in America. The Reformed Church in America provided the young couple with $500. to start their ministry.
Their first church location was actually a drive in theatre located a few miles from the present Crystal Cathedral location. (Orange Drive In Theatre.) It was operated as a drive in church. This drive in operation gave Pastor Schuller the idea for the present grand church that operates both with an "in church" seating and a "drive in" operation simultaneously. A large huge glass wall can be mechanically opened into the drive in area of the church.
From Southern California, June drove and navigated the group down accross the gulf states and into Florida. The Florida part of the Journey involved visits with relatives on the Rolstad side of the family that lived in the Apalachicola area. Visits were made to Disney World while in Florida and also the Nedland relatives living west of Orlando in Clermont, FL. Orlando and Clermont are in south central Florida. (Harry, Emma Nedland and their daughter Lois .) Harry Nedland was my uncle and Grandma Ellen's brother.
Harry, Emma and Lois Nedland have all since passed away and are now buried in Clermont, FL At the time of June's visit in 1977, the city of Clermont was a relatively small town that has had a soaring in the numbers of it's population since that time. The impact of Disney World plus the removal of large orange tree orchards that were replaced by housing, were factors in Clermont's large growth. The 2000 censis showed 9,333 person population. The 2006 census was over 22,000. This town was founded in 1884. It is considered a suburb of Orlando.
Harry died in 1995 at age 97, just a month before his 98th birthday. Emma his wife died in 1998 at the age of 96. Lois died in 2006 at the age of 77. This was a remarkably long life for her as she suffered with MS for the greater part of her life. (All were originally from Prairie Farm, WI where Harry was the town barber for most of his life.) June had know this family for most of her life.
(Photo below right is June with her Mother Haldis and Ed in Florida.)
At the time of June's visit to Disney World in Florida in 1977, it was much smaller than it is today. The Disney World Resort is today the most visited and largest recreational resort in the world. It is located about 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Florida. It presently contains four separate theme parks. When Disney World first opened on October 1st 1971 it consisted only of the Magic Kingdom Theme Park. The Magic Kingdom Theme Park consisted of Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Livberty Square, Fantasy Land, Tommorowland and Mikey's Toontown Fair. The Icon of the Magic Kingdom was the Cinderella Castle. After June's visit with Mother Haldis and Ed, in 1977, three more theme parks were added to Disney World. (Epcot was added October 1st, 1982, Disney Hollywood Studies May 1st, 1989 and Disney's Animal Kingdom on April 22nd, 1998. The last theme park was added the same year that Grandma June was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. June and I would visit the larger Disney World one year later in February 1999 as a part of the conference of the American Academy of Forensic Science. June was then in early stages of Alzheimer's and was able to enjoy her visit being only handicapped with short term memory losses.)
Visits with the Rolstads at Apalachicola, Florida included visits to the island home of Royce and Dorothy Rolstad and their family. The little Island was called St. George Island. Royce later died on this island on 28 August 1980 at the young age of 58. Royce and Dorothy had three children. The children were Patricia, (1945) Royce Jr. , (Born in Port St. Joe, FL in 1947) and Valerie (1953). Dorothy is still living as a widow in Apalachicola. Doris Rolstad also is living in Apalachicola as a widow of Royce Jr. There is a Royce (III) that was born (Panama City, FL) to Royce Jr. and Doris in 1982.
Apalachicola is a small town located in the extreme northwest portion of Florida and on the Gulf side. It is located on Apalachicola Bay and at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. The little town dates back to 1831 when it was considered and important sea port in the gulf area. It is the county seat for Frankin County Florida. The population is small at 2,334 as per the 2000 census. Port St. Joe is located just a few miles to the west of Apalachicola.
In the years following the 1977, Haldis and Ed would return to Florida during some of the years to spend their winters. There are pictures of June returning to Florida in the of the years 1981 and 1985 in during the spring of the year, so to assist Grandma Haldis and Ed in their preparation for and return to Barron after wintering in Florida. George Nedland (Ed's brother) also spent a few winters in the same area of Florida as Haldis and Ed.
Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available. June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on:
Last Update 4/23/2009.